The writer, director and star of something like 841 movies, Fred Williamson is blaxploitation’s Orson Welles. Or, given the body counts of those movies, maybe he’s blaxploitation’s Sylvester Stallone. A funnier (albeit completely off-base) appellation would be to call him blaxploitation’s Federico Fellini. Ridiculous comparisons aside, though, it’s important to note that even the great artistes – the Welleses, the Fellinis, even the Stallones (excepting Frank, of course) – spend a few years in the doldrums. In Fred Williamson’s case, the doldrums were the mid 1980’s – past his mid 70’s prime with movies like “Hammer” and “Three the Hard Way,” but before assuming elder statesman status in the 90’s with “Original Gangstas.” Exhibit A is “Foxtrap,” a mostly Williamson-by-numbers action pic that offers little more than a giant body count. Think of it like when Styx releases a new CD; while it might be nice to know the guy’s still working, what you really want is “Come Sail Away.” There it is, my analogies are completely out of control.

“Foxtrap” is most easily broken into three chapters: 1) there’s Fred Williamson, 2) there’s a few other characters, 3) Fred Williamson kills the other characters. I’m only half-kidding. Fred plays Thomas Fox, who is a private dick with a knack for murdering lots of people. Some rich white fellow named J.T. sends his goons to beat Fox up, because he wants to hire Fox to find his daughter, Susan. Fox, like anyone with a shred of common sense, is puzzled by this, but is wooed by the cash- “your methods may be ghetto,” he quips, “but your bank account is Beverly Hills.” The hiring scene is like eight hours long; about the only thing you don’t see is Williamson filling out his I-9 forms.

Where does a guy go looking for a rich guy’s wayward daughter? The Cannes Film Festival, of course! At this point you start to wonder if Fred Williamson didn’t just take a vacation in Europe and figured he’d shoot some scenes while he was there, as most of what takes place has no purpose and the little that does takes forever to make sense. Fox checks in with his French contact, only the guy has no info. He gets followed around by three guys; he kicks one of them in the butt and they all run off. Fox’s limo driver says he won’t drive Fox around anymore, because “your James Bond lifestyle is bad for my wife and five kids.” Fox hops aboard a boat where a woman distracts Fox with her, um, physical attributes, while thugs try to shoot him. Since they’re as secretive as a guy raging on a street corner, they end up getting killed instead. Buried somewhere in these excruciating red herrings is Fox’s meeting with Max, a short bearded guy in a beret who actually knows where Susan is, and where that is, is that she is in Istanbul. No wait, I mean, Rome. And she’s with a guy named Marco, who is dangerous. Max says he can get help in Rome from someone named Marianna. With all the traveling he’s doing, wouldn’t he be better off hiring Rick Steves?

When in Rome, Fox does as the Romans do, which apparently means walking around accompanied by bad MIDI music. He finds Marianna, who says Susan (or “Belinda” as she’s inexplicably known in Rome) will be at Marco’s club tonight. They immediately go to the club, where Italians are wandering about doing Italian stuff and Pete Townshend appears to be having a drink in the main lounge. Susan is there and she’s flustered by Fox’s questioning, so Marco’s henchman, Vladimir Putin, whisks her away to a private room. Marco, who looks like a sleazy Kenny Loggins, asks some other guy to investigate “this man, Thomas Fox.” Fox smokes a cigar, mingles and… leaves? Marco chastises Susan for interfering with his business, even though she didn’t.

Back at the hotel, we learn that Marianna is digging Fox’s action, but he turns her advances down for the eminently more enjoyable option of getting his butt kicked by Vladimir Putin and some other henchman (Dmitry Medvedev? We can only assume). Fox wakes up saying “shit” and holding his head in pain. It turns out he’s been rescued by Marianna’s fey roommate, Joseph, who keeps calling Fox “sweetheart.” Joseph doesn’t want Fox around, so Fox steals his plate of bonbons. The previous sentence was not embellished.

Fox takes one more trip to Marco’s club to threaten people and kick Vladimir Putin in the crotch a couple times. He goes back to his hotel, takes his shirt off, and calls J.T. back in the US, who offers additional dollars to bring Susan home. Marianna wanders in, naked, and it’s lovin’ time, and by that I mean “close up of Marianna’s hinder for like forty minutes time,” making me regret having bought a big screen TV.

Ok, it’s morning and we’ve found Susan’s hideout with Marco or something. She drives to some sort of delicatessen, and Fox follows her. “Remember me? The brother from L.A.?” She doesn’t want to go back to L.A., though she digs Marco. Meanwhile, some guy is upset and tries to stop Fox, only he’s like 80 and Fox wails on him, knocking him into a vegetable cart. The guy almost shoots Fox, but Marianna jumps on him. The guy punches her, and I guess this scene is over.

Back at somewhere, Fox tells Susan that he’s “damn sure tired of getting hit on the head!” She tells him that it’s not going to be easy to get her out of the country, not with Marco watching. The phone rings. Marco calls. He says it’s not going to be easy to get her out of the country, not with him watching. Fox acts out lines from a different script than Marco, which is probably supposed to mean he’s turning Susan and Marco against each other but just sounds incomprehensible. Oh, he’s tricking Susan into believing Marco wants her dead. Now she wants his help in escaping. After additional closeups of their back ends, they escape from the roof of wherever they were and end up at Marianna’s apartment, where Joseph is sulking. He says Marco’s taken Marianna and wants to make a trade. Fox says “Ok, Marco… game’s over.” Huh? Fox then tells Joseph to back off, but Joseph says he’s up to the task, even though we still don’t know what said task is. They’re a team now, I guess.

There are some thugs in the courtyard. Joseph says he’ll take care of them. “What are you gonna do, blow kisses at em?” Close! He does some bad Fame-like dance moves and hits on the thugs. They’re completely confused. Then he kicks them into the pool. “Ok, honey, you can come on out now,” he tells Fox. They infiltrate a well-stocked library and shoot a guy. Fox shoots a second guy, who falls out a window. Fox shoots a third guy to death, and then (I think) the exact same guy walks up to the door! And Fox shoots him to death again!

Meanwhile Joseph finds Marianna tied naked to a bed, downstairs highly visible. Fox lurks elsewhere and kills another henchman in a bright blue suit. Joseph has wrapped Marianna in a sheet and brought her to the library. Tender synth music plays as Joseph tells us “those assholes killed her.” Fox apologizes to the corpse. Marco appears in his best casual boatwear and Joseph chases him with a knife. Two gunshots later and, well, Joseph shall share bonbons no more. Marco reappears. Fox doesn’t shoot him… why? Because Joseph knifed him already. Gotta love an action movie where all the plot-related action happens offscreen!

Fox and Susan fly back to L.A., where we learn that J.T. is actually the bad guy and Fox has a cool blue car. J.T. explains that Susan is not his daughter but a junkie who secretly stole video surveillance tapes of Charlie Sheen – er, some famous clients. J.T. says she can go if she gives him the tapes. “You’re scum, Thomas.” “But I’m rich scum.” Fox tells Susan about the deal – she’s not impressed. Or maybe she’s just retching? She says the tapes are on Fox’s desk and would he please get her some drugs. This movie is treading close to after-school special territory.

Fox finds the tapes at his office and calls J.T., who answers on a cordless phone the size of a car battery and tells Fox that Susan can’t come to the phone because he’s doped up. Lindy, one of the other girls, grabs the phone and tells Fox she died from the drugs. Lindy gets a slap and a lecture from J.T., who tells her that “you talk when I tell you to talk, and you pee when I tell you to pee!”

We’re in some pier or warehouse or abandoned something. Thugs walk. Fox lurks. Shadows are everywhere. J.T. says he’s got 100 grand in his car. Fox kills a thug and there are SHADOWS and so another thug tries surrendering to Fox but Fox shoots him and J.T. offers Fox a deal in which they’ll both blackmail (allegedly) Charlie Sheen together but Fox blows up J.T.’s car with J.T. inside and we’re finally free of this awful movie. For the record, there are only three characters left alive at the end of the movie, Fox, Max the beret guy and Rico the odd and superfluous contact in Cannes.

The credits roll. Fox lines up the tapes and BLOWS EM AWAY. And the credits say “Watch next summer for The FOX and the COBRA.” Fox is joining G.I. Joe! This sequel was never produced, probably under threat of UN sanctions. Not recommended.